It is estimated that 20% – 40% of intimate partner relationships involving a law enforcement officer are abusive. These estimates are based on stats in 1999 and 2003. We need new data desperately.
Finding organizations, colleges and universities that are available to conduct surveys and collect data is challenging. Cost is a factor, of course. Conducting research, studies, travel for interviews, hiring assistants is a considerable cost. Additionally, many do not want to conduct the crucial research because doing so is considered “anti law enforcement”. Most do not want this label attached to their name and organization.
I feel the “anti law enforcement” answer is a label that doesn’t have to be assigned. Law enforcement is an institution of systems and order. Conducting research is a way establish system and order within the profession.
Many departments do not have a protocol if one of their own is arrested for intimate partner violence. An overwhelming majority of departments have not adopted a model policy for their officers. The IACP (International Association of Chiefs of Police) has a written policy that all departments have access to, yet many are reluctant to write their own. Some departments consider their general domestic violence policy to be sufficient. This is not the correct path. It is important to have a separate policy for OIDV. It is crucial for all officers to have mandatory training.
Many officers have negative attitudes about domestic abuse victims. The judgments are often formed prior to entering the police academy. For some, the judgments are formed after time on the job. Any bias must be addressed.
When I speak to advocates, I urge them to reach out and discuss OIDV with their local law enforcement agencies to determine if law enforcement has protocol established. Ask if they have policy created. Ask if law enforcement has reached out to neighboring jurisdictions to establish policy in case one of their officers is arrested in a neighboring jurisdiction. Ask if they have a program to assist victims of OIDV to receive the help they need. Ask what the investigative process is like for an OIDV victim.
Violence against women has been a low priority for decades in communities around the world. In this era, the time is now to stop the silence. It’s time to confront the “elephant in the room”.